Wednesday, November 12, 2014

the unequality of feminism

i happened across a blog / website that talked about organization and motivation tools for getting work done... it focuses mainly on the home, but it is applicable to other areas of life, as well... i thought it was a fairly brilliant take on what is generally a dreaded and menial task; cleaning.

i also liked the name: Unfuck Your Habitat (or UfYH, for short).

i won't get into the details of the site, as this post is not about the site... or the tools... or the motivation... or anything useful... this post is about feminism.

Feminism? What? Are you saying cleaning is women's work?

of course not... but that's the attitude right there which needs to be addressed... it's the knee-jerk reaction which says, if you make a statement about a subject which feminists have determined to be a "woman's issue", then you are a chauvinistic piece of crap... how dare you have an opinion or even speak your mind... unless, of course, you parrot whatever bit of tripe we say you are allowed to say.

here's a little background on this experience... we'll start with the title of the piece which was so outside of UfYH's organization and motivation tools that it cried out for attention:

Enough With the Gender Role Crap Already

catchy title, isn't it?... it so nicely places the outrage in a succinct manner... on the surface, it appears to be about equality, so, though crudely formed, it's an agreeable sentiment... ah, but that's where the first clue should have been found... it's not about equality... it's about fairness.

it all started when a question was posed to UfYH:

Q: My husband and I both work full-time and we have two kids (5 and 8). Our schedules are basically the same, and the kids are in school or at my mother-in-law’s house while we’re at work. When we’re home, though, the bulk of dealing with the kids, and ALL of the cooking and cleaning falls to me. My husband says that his job is more demanding than mine is, and that I’m better at the housework than he is. We’ve been together for a long time, and this is really the only sticking point in our marriage. How do I make him see that this arrangement is unfair to me?

so, let me point out the key parts of the question which quickly became points of contention:

  1. the husband and wife both work full-time
  2. schedules are the same
  3. wife does bulk of house-work; kids, cleaning, cooking
  4. husband's excuse is his job is more demanding.

to which, UfYH responds with:

all caps... really?... UfYH continues:
OK, so what we’re dealing with here is the product of deeply ingrained social gender roles; ones that relegate women to doing all of the housework and child-rearing, even when they work just as much as their male partner.

here the problem starts... "work just as much as their male partner"... UfYH has immediately dismissed the husband when he said his job is more demanding... because, i guess, the patriarchy... UfYH continues:

Well, first off, make sure you write a nice thank-you note to your in-laws for helping perpetuate this nonsense for another generation by training their special snowflake that his external genitalia somehow exempts him from washing the goddamn dishes.

okay... rude... that's about the extent of UfYH's sexist and misandrist rant on their blog... of course, i'm more than willing to point out the mistake in assuming that the male here is always wrong... UfHY hadn't even considered that, perhaps, the jobs, which have similar schedules, have dissimilar work taking place at each of them... it is a distinct possibility, on which the husband relies for his side of the discussion, that one job is physically more demanding than the other... perhaps the husband does manual labor all day, while the wife sits at a desk... the desk job may be mentally and emotionally draining, but not so physically... are unequal things to be treated equally?

the questioner also disregards other work which, in the "gender normative" relationship (to use a popular feminist phrase), is placed on the male... does he do yard-work?... home repairs?... vehicle maintenance?... what other responsibilities has the female excluded from consideration because it is cognitively dissonant to her argument?

so, i point this out on UfYH's Facebook account:

Why is no one asking what the two of them do at their jobs? That was his excuse. You might consider both sides of an argument before assigning "gender inequality". That, in itself, is sexist.

too much?... to which UfYH replied:

They work the same number of hours, the same schedule, and both live in the same house and were both responsible for adding children to their family (biologically or otherwise). Actually, if the letter writer carried and gave birth to the children, then, by that logic, the husband should take on all of the child-rearing duties since her job in child-creation was measurably more difficult.

well that escalated quickly... same hours; same schedule... so, the actual work required to do their individual jobs doesn't matter... but child-birth does?... to which, i replied:

Same hours. So all hours are equal? Just wondering why that was not considered? Do welders do equal work to carpenters? Nurses to waitresses? Teachers to lawyers? And I agree with you about [carrying] the load equally. But you haven't addressed what the loads actually are. And if giving birth plays into it, how long does the husband work to equal that? Never? Just consider that you're overlooking several unspoken factors.

UfYH retorts:

So is your assumption that the husband's job is harder and/or more demanding than the wife's? And that has absolutely nothing to do with the devaluation of what is traditionally seen as "women's work" (teaching, nursing, waitressing) as less important than "men's work"? The letter writer provided all of the details I had to work with, and regardless of what their respective jobs are, there's no excuse for the husband to be doing NONE of the household work. ("ALL of the cooking and cleaning falls to me.")

there's "no excuse"... well, that's a convenient theory, but reality has a way of intruding on your platonic and idyllic utopia... differences do matter... physically demanding jobs degrade the body and require additional recuperation time... increased mortality (e.g. death) is directly linked to high occupational physical activity and low to moderate leisure, while high leisure reduces mortality in the same physical jobs... demanding physical work is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

but, apparently, facts don't matter... only feelings... if the husband dies at an early age, so much the better, right?... for feminism!!... fuck external genitalia!... fuck the patriarchy!... fuck men! (but not in the happy-fun way, because, the patriarchy).

reason be-damned.

unequality: noun - the state or condition of being not equal in quality, value, or rank

Ask UfYH: Seriously, Enough With the Gender Role Crap Already by "[E] RachelTuesday", November 11th, 2014 on Persephone Magazine

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Rs vs. Ds - Questionist - Re-Blog

re-blog post of The Questionist... some formatting and all emphasis are mine... no edits of content.

Every once in a while a post comes along that shines a very bright spotlight on just how profoundly insulated some people's personal echo chambers are. This one is mind boggling in its contempt for reality. Before I deconstruct this fantastical narrative, I need to clarify that this is NOT a defense of Republicans, nor is it an indictment of Democrats.

Claim #1:
Democrats are responsible for 65 straight months of economic growth.
Facts: The economic collapse of 2008 resulted in economic indicators that reach 75 year lows. These numbers were so far from average that the chances of them improving were near 100%, no matter what the government did or who was in charge. This results from a statistical phenomenon called “regression toward the mean.”
One famous example of this phenomenon in action is the “Sports Illustrated Cover Jinx.” Athletes or teams that are featured on the cover are chosen only following extremely good performances. Regression toward the mean all but assures that their performance will not be as good as the exceptional performance responsible for getting them on the cover. The same phenomenon holds true for any variable metric.
The economic growth that we have realized is much smaller and slower than expected, and the evidence that Democratic policies are responsible is non-existent, especially considering more than half of that growth was realized under a Republican House.

Claim #2:
Democrats are responsible for record 56 months of private sector job growth.
Facts: See #1.

Claim #3:
Democrats are responsible for unemployment falling from 10.1% to 5.9%.
Facts: Both the Employment to Population Ratio (also called simply the employment rate) and the Labor Force Participation Rate have dropped to 30+ year lows.
The unemployment rate of 5.9% that we see on the news does not give us the entire picture. If you add those actively seeking employment + short term discouraged workers + long term discouraged workers + part time workers who want to work full time, the number is closer to 23%. And if we used the same unemployment measurement we used prior to 1994, unemployment would be around 18%.
Add to this that people who are reentering the labor force are getting jobs with lower wages and fewer hours, and add to this that income inequality is increasing, and add to this that wages are not keeping pace with inflation; and the 5.9% unemployment rate we see in the headlines is not particularly meaningful. And... See #1 – regression toward the mean.

Claim #4:
Democrats are responsible for the budget deficit being reduced by two-thirds.
Facts: This one is more complicated, and I'm not going to pretend to understand all the reasons for this. What we do know from looking at revenue compared to spending is that spending has largely leveled off, and revenue has slowly increased since a $500 billion dip following the collapse; so part of this reduction is due again to regression toward the mean. Spending under Bush increased at a faster than normal rate due to increased military spending and, because for most of his term, Republicans controlled both houses of Congress. Any time the same party is in control of both the executive and legislative branches, spending increases.
I'll conclude that this claim has some truth to it, but keep in mind that the National Debt has increased from $10.7 trillion to $18 trillion under Obama. In terms of debt as a percentage of GDP, it has increased under Obama from 65% to over 100%. As a comparison, under Bush it increased from 55% to 65%. This is a long term trend that has little to do with who is President or who is in control of Congress, but it is a distinctly unhealthy trend.

Claim #5:
Democrats are responsible for fewer Americans in harm's way in war zones.
Facts: The reduction in troops in Iraq was the direct result of the U.S.-Iraq Status of Forces Agreement signed by Bush in 2008.
Yes, there are fewer troops overseas, but what Americans wanted and expected when they voted for Obama was a drastic reduction in military interventionism, not just the number of troops on the ground.
What we did NOT want or expect was hundreds of drone strikes in Pakistan, an invasion of Libya, American citizens killed in Yemen, 17,000 residual forces, diplomats, and defense contractors left in Iraq, and 10,000 troops left in Afghanistan after the end of 2014.
As recently as September of 2012 Obama said. “We are bringing our troops home from Afghanistan. And I've set a timetable. We will have them all out of there by 2014. And when I say I'm going to bring them home, you know they're going to come home.” This is clearly not the case.
We did not want or expect an escalation in Iraq that included renewed airstrikes. We did not want or expect a new war in Iraq and Syria.

Claim #6:
Democrats are responsible for zero attacks by al Qaeda on US soil.
Facts: I'm not sure how Democrats are responsible for this, and there are far too few data points to draw any conclusions about which party is better or worse at preventing terrorist attacks.

Claim #7:
Democrats are responsible for record stock market growth.
Facts: This is perhaps the most clear example of regression to the mean. A stock market at rock bottom has nowhere else to go but up. In addition, the Federal Reserve dumped 16 trillion printed US Dollars into the market in 2008-2009, and has continued to pump 85 billion printed US Dollars into the market ever since. There is no possible way that the stock market could NOT have gone up under these conditions, and the negative effects are a dramatic increase in wealth inequality, a huge stock market bubble, and economic growth that is supported almost exclusively by debt. Despite the record stock market numbers, the US economy is very sick in a very real and long term sense.
Again, this has nothing to do with which party is in power, and much to do with short-sighted monetary policy on the part of the Federal Reserve. Almost all politicians focus on short term solutions with complete disregard to long term effects. This cliff will be very difficult, if not impossible, to retreat from.

Claim #8:
Republicans are responsible for two economic recessions.
Facts: Recessions are largely the result of natural economic fluctuations, and the only influence that politicians can hope for is to reduce the effect or shorten the duration. The recession of 2002 was a direct result of the bursting of the dot-com bubble of the late 1990s.
The collapse of 2008 was the result of several factors, none of them having anything to do with which party was in power. The precipitating factor was the collapse of the housing bubble which was, in turn, precipitated by artificially low interest rates by the Federal Reserve and ridiculously easy lending terms which resulted in millions of people getting mortgages that were above their abilities to maintain.
Another factor was the 1999 repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act which separated commercial and investment banking. This allowed commercial banks to, effectively, gamble with our money. The repeal of this act was supported by both Democrats and Republicans, and signed by Bill Clinton.

Claim #9:
Republicans were responsible for the worst financial collapse since the Great Depression.
Facts: See #8.

Claim #10:
Republicans were responsible for the worst terrorist attack in history.
Facts: This claim is probably the most disconnected from reality of any of the claims on this list. One only needs to read exactly what Osama bin Laden himself explained as the reasons for the attack. []
Among the motivations stated by bin Laden for the attack were: long term US aggression in the Middle East, US attacks on Somalia, US support for Russian atrocities in Chechnya, Guantanamo Bay, the presence of US troops in Saudi Arabia, immorality of Americans (including the President), US support for Israel, and US sanctions against Iraq. (People seem to forget that Clinton was bombing Iraq throughout his term on a regular basis.)
None of these alleged provocations had anything to do with which party was in power, although the most immediate of them (and infuriating for bin Laden) happened on Clinton's watch.
Another possible motivation for the 9/11 attack offered by terrorism experts is that bin Laden wanted to provoke America into a war that would incite a pan-Islamist revolution. Considering what is currently happening with the Islamic State, one can only conclude that this strategy has been largely successful.

Claim # 11:
Republicans were responsible for the two longest wars in US history.
Facts: This claim regarding the war in Iraq is mostly true. This happened on Bush's watch with fabricated claims made by his administration, and a large majority of Republicans supporting the Iraq War Authorization. Note that a majority of Democratic Senators also voted in favor of the resolution.
This claim regarding the war in Afghanistan is, however, completely false. Only three members of Congress did not vote in favor of this, one Democrat and two Republicans.

Claim #12:
Republicans are responsible for the worst record of job creation since Herbert Hoover.
Facts: It is true that job creation under Bush was the worst since Hoover, and a certain amount of blame can be placed at the feet of Republicans. Another factor is (you guessed it) regression to the mean. After the dot-com boom, employment was exceptionally high, and it was a statistical near certainty that job creation would slow down or decrease.
Another factor is that the forces that led to the 2008 collapse were working against the economy well before the actual collapse itself. It's also worth a reminder that governmental actions have limited effects on job creation, and what small effects there are can lag several years behind the action.

Claim #13:
Republicans are responsible for a complete collapse of the stock market.
Facts: See #8. (It's interesting that three of the seven claims against Republicans are essentially the exact same claim. I could have come up with a lot more legitimate complaints against Republicans.)

Claim #14:
A budget surplus turned into a trillion dollar deficit.
Facts: It's true that Republican led spending on military intervention added to the deficits experienced under Bush. But yet again this can, to a large degree, be explained by regression to the mean. The 1990s saw an unprecedented information revolution, and a dot-com bubble that was further inflated by a badly timed reduction in capital gains taxes (which was supported by both Democrats and Republicans and signed by Clinton).

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